District of Columbia Council Chair Vincent Gray asked Mayor Adrian Fenty for the procedure for the selection of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor-nominee Michelle Rhee.
Review of the takeover legislation, the 2007 District of Columbia Public Education Reform Amendment Act (Act), suggests that Fenty acted appropriately under the technical requirements. There is nothing precluding Fenty from consulting the DC Council members, as the Act’s requirements only require the Mayor to consider the recommendation and opinion of the panel (with greater weight given to the recommendation of the Washington Teachers Union).
The relevant section is under Title I, section 105:
(b)(1) Prior to the selection of a nominee for Chancellor, the Mayor shall:
(A) Establish a review panel of teachers, including representatives of the
Washington Teachers Union, parents, and students (“panel”) to aid the Mayor in his or her selection of Chancellor;
(B) Provide the resumes and other pertinent information pertaining to
the individuals under consideration, if any, to the panel; and
(C) Convene a meeting of the panel to hear the opinions and
recommendations of the panel.
(2) The Mayor shall consider the opinions and recommendations of the panel in
making his or her nomination and shall give great weight to any recommendation of the Washington Teachers Union.
Ultimately, the selection of the Chancellor rests with the Mayor, as the DCPS Chancellor serves at the pleasure of the Mayor (Act Title I, section 105(a)(3)).
However, it is ill advised to ignore the views of the members of DC’s legislative body, the DC Council. The DC Council has the power to confirm Rhee to the post of DCPS Chancellor (Act Title I, section 105(a)).
Concerning the DCPS Chancellor, the Act describes the requirements and duties of the position. The education and experience needed for the job of DCPS Chancellor is not defined (Act Title I, section 105(a)(2), arguably leaving it to the Mayor to decide on those details.
The duties of the DCPS Chancellor is defined in Act Title I, section 105(c):
(c) The duties of the Chancellor shall include to:
(1) Organize the agency for efficient operation;
(2) Create offices within the agency, as necessary;
(3) Exercise the powers necessary and appropriate to operate the schools and
school system and to implement applicable provisions of District and federal law;
(4) Communicate with the collective bargaining unit for the employees under
his or her administration;
(5) Promulgate and implement rules and regulations necessary and appropriate to accomplish his or her duties and functions in accordance with section 103 and the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.);
(6) Obtain parental input as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,
approved January 8, 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-110; 115 Stat. 1425), and in accordance with the rules promulgated pursuant to this title;
(7) Hold public meetings, at least quarterly;
(8) Exercise, to the extent that such authority is delegated by the Mayor,:
(A) Personnel authority; and
(B) Procurement authority independent of the Office of Contracting and
Procurement, consistent with the District of Columbia Procurement Practices Act of 1985, effective February 21, 1986 (D.C. Law 6-85; D.C. Official Code § 2-301.01 et seq.);
(9) Maintain clean and safe school facilities; and
(10) Create and operate a District-wide database that records the condition of all school facilities under the control of DCPS, which database shall be updated as necessary, but at least once per calendar year.
The job of DCPS Chancellor requires more than just selecting teachers (the focus of the New Teacher Project) and principals.